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Making First Year Physics Fun

Ben Davis-Purcell, Instructional Assistant, McMaster University
davispbr@mcmaster.ca

The Department of Physics & Astronomy at McMaster University recently redesigned our first-year physics programme. The most important aspect of this project was the design and implementation of a new introductory physics course (Physics 1A03). Sara Cormier wrote about this course in detail last year, so I will just give a brief overview. Physics 1A03 sees an enrolment of about 1800 students each year, primarily by students who need one physics course to meet a degree requirement. Many students who take the course have never taken grade 12 physics or calculus, so we do not assume prior knowledge or use any calculus. Instead, the goal of the course is to give students an appreciation for physics and show its importance, focusing on concepts that relate to real-life problems. Most importantly, we want to show students that physics is not just valuable, but fun to understand and learn. In this article I will focus on some of my favourite ways in which we make Physics 1A03 fun. I will refer you to Sara’s article for a more detailed overview of the course. Read More...

Physics in the news as a vector for classroom engagement

Kelly Meissner, BSc, MSc, BEd
Bluevale Collegiate Institute, WRDSB
kelly_meissner@wrdsb.ca

Now more than ever it has become important for our students to develop a deep understanding of the science in the news that constantly surrounds them. These students will live with the effects of climate change and hopefully make important evidenced-based decisions rather than those based on alternative facts. It is imperative that when our students leave us, they have a strong moral, ethical and scientific compass that supports the betterment of humanity and our precious Earth. Read More...

Astronomy Workshop

The Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto, and Discover the Universe — a national, bilingual program to support the teaching of astronomy in schools — invite you to attend and participate in a FREE one-day astronomy workshop for schoolteachers. The focus will be on the grade nine level, but all interested teachers and education professionals are welcome.

When/Where: Saturday April 28, 2018 from 9 am to 4 pm on the University of Toronto St. George Campus, 50 St. George Street.
Note: the workshop venue is not wheelchair accessible.

The workshop will include curriculum-connected science mini-talks and discussions, a planetarium show, classroom activities and resources, free materials to take back to your classroom, lots of time for questions and discussion, and a chance to talk with astronomers and education specialists.

For more information, and to register, free of charge, go to:
http://discovertheuniverse.ca/workshop/astronomy-workshop-in-toronto-2018/

Discover the Universe (discovertheuniverse.ca) is sponsored by the Dunlap Institute, and the Canadian Astronomical Society.

Biophysics Contest

The Physics Department of York University is hosting a Biophysics contest.

This is a competition open to all Ontario high school students. The contest aims to investigate a rapidly growing frontier of science, and to promote skills in the communication of science. The goal is to demonstrate the interdisciplinary threads that connect together the physical and life sciences, which can seem and feel like disparate areas of science in high school and university! Students must create a poster to visually tell a "story" that relates a fundamental physical concept to a basic biological (or biomedical) topic.

This is a great opportunity to help your students get excited about what is happening where biology meets physics. The first prize is $1250!! The deadline for submission is midnight May1, 2018.

For more information, go to
http://www.biophysics.yorku.ca/contest/

The 2018 OAPT Conference is open for Registration!!!

This year’s conference will take place May 10-12 at Western University. The theme this year is Physics at the Boundaries, where we will explore how physics interacts with other disciplines.

There will be over 30 workshops to choose from to support physics education from grade 9 to 12 and post-secondary. It is a great opportunity to share ideas and concerns, make friends and professional connections.

The costs of the conference are very low — especially if you register before the early bird deadline of April 12 — and there are special rates for teachers who are new, retired or from the elementary panel. The accommodation is subsidized ($30 per night including a hot breakfast!) and there are a limited number of subsidies for travel and first-time attendees.

For more information about the conference and to register go to https://oaopt.wildapricot.org/page-18092

Improv for Scientists

Joanne M. O'Meara
Professor, Associate Chair (Undergraduate)
Department of Physics, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON
omeara@uoguelph.ca

In order to give our physics majors more opportunities to develop their communication skills during their undergraduate degree, we now require them to take a one-semester Science Communications course that focuses on sharing their passion for physics with diverse audiences. This course is structured very differently from the rest of their core courses, with weekly discussion sessions in which students are expected to share their thoughts and opinions on assigned readings or viewings. Students also do at least three presentations during the term and participate in regular in-class group activities such as brainstorming a script/storyboard for a video on the Physics of the Winter Olympics. Read More...

Young Women in Engineering Symposium May 5 2018

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Dear STEM Educators,

Greetings from the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto. I hope this message finds you enjoying a healthy and productive school year. We are planning a campus event this spring designed to increase the number of young women entering STEM professions in Ontario, and we need your help! We are reaching out to Physics educators to identify top female Grade 11 Physics students to take part in our fourth annual Young Women in Engineering Symposium.

This free Symposium will take place on Saturday, May 5, 2018 and will feature:
• A keynote address from a leading female scientist or engineer
• Hands-on workshops
• An Engineering myth-busters panel
• A luncheon with current engineering female students

Kindly forward this message to your school’s Science Head, asking them to please share the application link below with up to three of their top Grade 11 female students (note that students must be entering their Grade 12 year in September 2018 and be planning on taking Grade 12 Physics):

http://uoft.me/YoungWomenEngineeringSymposium

Students interested in participating in the Symposium are asked to complete their application by Monday, March 26, 2018. Due to limited space, we may not be able to accommodate all applicants, and so we will confirm their participation through e-mail by mid-April.

Thank you very much for your help with this initiative. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or Jessica Chow (jessica.chow@ecf.utoronto.ca) if you have any questions.



All the best,

Micah Stickel

Vice-Dean, First Year
Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering | University of Toronto
Office of the Dean, 44 St. George Street, BA1009 | Toronto | Ontario | M5S 2E4
Email: cfy@ecf.utoronto.ca, m.stickel@utoronto.ca
Web: www.engineering.utoronto.ca, www.uoft.me/mstickel
Tel 416.978.7805 | Fax 416.946.0371

Metal Leaf Electroscope Simulator

Matthew Craig, Teacher at the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto
matt.simon.craig@gmail.com

I’ve been programming a suite of PC/MAC/Android simulations designed for teaching the Ontario curriculum for science and physics. One topic for which I have never had an effective simulation is the metal-leaf electroscope for grade 9 science, and revisited briefly in grade 12 physics.

The electroscope simulation I have developed is a very simple simulation that can be used to show induced charge separation, charging by contact, charging by induction and grounding. Read More...

A New Approach to Teaching Motion: Modeling, Metacognition, and Mathematical Sense-Making

Chris Meyer, York Mills C. I., Toronto
Christopher.meyer@tdsb.on.ca

The Gold Medal Race
It was a thrill to watch the Toronto high school student Penny Oleksiak win gold in the pool at the Rio summer Olympics. Now my students and I watch her win every semester as part of our new motion unit for grade 11 physics. In this article, I will describe the new pedagogical ideas that I have built into this unit, starting with Penny Oleksiak. Penny’s outstanding performance is a great example for physics students because: she’s awesome, she’s female, she’s still in high school, and it draws students into a real application of what they learn: sport science.

Read More...
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